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          Arthur & Olga Kytöneva - Wesa Family
  In Loving Memory    
                                                   In honor of Our Great Grandparents
                                                                 by: Diane Levonius

Arthur Kytöneva - Wesa

Olga Kytöneva - Wesa

    Frans Artturi (Arthur) Kytöneva born 27.7.1884, died "unknown", married 30.4.1903 to Olga Alexandra Kuusikorpi, born 28.7.1884, died 22.9.1922.  Arthur left Finland on 05.10.1907 and immigrated to America through Canada.  Olga and the children followed in 21.6.1913 to join him in Michigan, USA.  They had 6 children; 3 born in Isojoki, Finland and 3 born in Carp Lake, Michigan, USA.  Arthur changed the family name to Vesa and later to Wesa sometime after moving to Green, Michigan.
1.  Frans Lauri born 25.5.1905, Isojoki, Finland
                     2.  Aune Johanna (later called Ruth) born 11.11.1906, Isojoki, Finland
                     3.  Onni Mikael born 17.5.1908, Isojoki, Finland

                     4.  Viljo (later called Arthur Jr.) born in 1915, Carp Lake, Michigan
                     5.  Paavo (later called Walter) born in 1917, Carp Lake, Michigan
                     6.  Eero  (later called Elmer) born in 1918, Carp Lake, Michigan

Frans Lauri

Aune Johanna (Ruth)

Onni Mikael

Viljo (Arthur Jr.)

Paavo (Walter)

Eero (Elmer)

What we know about the Kytöneva - Wesa family:

Arthur's parents are Jaakko Joonas Jaakonpoika Kytöneva born 19.12.1854 and Amalia Malakiaantytär Kalliomäki born 24.12.1861.  They had 11 children:

1. Hilda Maria - born 26.6.1882, Isojoki, Finland, died 18.7.1961.  Hilda had 6 children and she was never married, but lived together with a man, Koskinen.  Please Note:  When Uncle Lauri was born, his Isojoki, Finland birth record listed Arthur and Olga's residence as the same place of Hilda Kytöneva home.
            a)  Svante Nikolai, born 30.12.1900, Isojoki, Finland
            b)  Arvo Walfrid, born 27.6.1909, Isojoki, Finland, died 9.8.1941,
WWII in Hiitola
            c)  Aune Maria, born 30.3.1914, Isojoki, Finland, died 5.4.1914
            d)  Toivo William, born 1.9.1921, Merikarvialla, Finland, died 24.4.1929
            e)  Taimi Susanna, born 1.9.1921, Merikarvialla, Finland, died 5.2.1930
             f)   Pauli Johannes, born 26.6.1924, died 23.7.1929
2. Yrjö – born 18.4.1900, Isojoki, Finland, died 3.4.1901

Frans Artturi (Arthur - Great Grandfather) born 27.7.1884, Isojoki, Finland,  died “unknown”, Married 30.04.1903 to Olga Alexandra Kuusikorpi, (Great Grandmother) born 28.7.1884, died 22.9.1922. Frans Artturi left Finland on 05.10.1907 and moved to America. Olga left Finland with the children 21.6.1913. The boys names where changed when attending school to make it easier for American teachers to pronounce.  They had 6 children:

            a)  Frans Lauri,  born 25.5.1905, Isojoki
            b)  Aune Johanna (Grandmother), born 11.11.1906, Isojoki, Finland
            c)  Onni Mikael, born 17.5.1908, Isojoki, Finland, died 1924
            d)  Viljo (later called Arthur), born in 1915, Carp Lake, Michigan
            e)  Paavo (later called Walter), born in 1917, Carp Lake, Michigan
             f)  Eero  (later called Elmer) born in 1918, Carp Lake, Michigan         

Our Grandmother Aune (Ruth) Johanna Kytöneva - Wesa is the mother of my Aunt Ruth Rupert, Mother Darline Warner, and Aunt Dorothy Laughlin.  Darline and Dorothy are fraternal twins.

Grandmother Aune (Ruth) 1948

Aunt Ruth (Cynthia's Mom)

Darline (Diane's Mom)

Aunt Dorothy

4. Anshelm, born 18.12.1887, emigrated to America around 31.5.1906.

5. Juho Vihtori, born 24.5.1889, Isojoki, Finland, died 15.1.1972, married to Hilda Maria Augustintytär Hautalan, born  11.6.1889, died 9.11.1950.  They had 13 children:

            a) Signe Sylvi, born 20.1.1915
            b) Vilho Willhard, born 2.2.1916, Isojoki, Finland, died 28.9.1920
            c)  Sulo Suoma, born 27.12.1916, Isojoki, Finland, died 17.6.1977,
            d)  Saima Sofia, born 21.6.1918, Isojoki, Finland
            e)  Sanni Sanelma, born 28.10.XXXX, married 22.1.1944 to Vilho Henrik Viitalan, born  26.6.1915, Isojoki, Finland, died 7.7.1957
             f) Vilho Waldemar, born 5.11.1920, died 27.3.1922
            g) Seeni Suleima, born 27.6.1922, died 20.7.1950
            h)  Walter Johannes, born 12.9.1923, Isojoki, Finland
             I) Meeri Maria, born 22.10.1924, died 8.5.1925
             j) Laura Raakkeli, born 12.1.1926, died 30.5.1926
            k) Meeri Marjatta, born 10.2.1928, Isojoki, Finland
             l) Eerik Ilmari, born 6.3.1931, Isojoki, Finland
             j) Alwar Aulis, born 6.5.1934, married 8.10.1961 to Helina Helena Viitalan (kauhajoella), born 7.7.1939.

Please note: Juho Vihtori´s youngest son Alvar Kytöneva (70 years) and his sister Meeri are still living in Finland today.  Alvar and Meeri are Arthur's nephew and niece!  Also, Saima Sofia daughter’s Anja Pihlajaviita and Salme (Järvenpää) still living in Finland too. 

6. Oskar William, born 22.9.1893, Isojoki, Finland
7. Lilja Lyydia, born 17.6.1897, Isojoki, Finland
8. Jaakko Joonas,
born 21.7.1903, died 29.8.1903
9. Yrjö,
born 17.3.1902
10. Johannes Nikolai,
born 4.11.1905, Isojoki, Finland
11. Jenni Emilia,
born 4.11.1905, died 25.3.1906

    Like many Finns, Arthur moved to America searching for a better life for his family in 1907.  Between 1900 and 1910 more than 58,000 Finns came to America.  Almost half of all these settled in the lake Superior region of the Upper Peninsula, Michigan.  The lakes and forests of this region reminded the settlers of Finland.  Many worked as carpenters, lumberjacks, miners, and farmers.  Arthur and his family settled in Green, Michigan.  Green was a well known Finnish community near Ontonagon.  There were heartaches from being in a strange land, coping with a strange language, discrimination, and back-breaking work.  Due to financial circumstances few returned to Finland even for a brief visit to their homeland,  Instead, they pledged loyalty to a new land and became citizens of the United States of America.

Arthur and Olga

From left to right: Onni, Eero, Lauri, Paavo, and Viljo.

The SS Astraea is the steamship Arthur traveled to Canada on in 1907.

The SS Scandinavian is the steamship Olga, Lauie, Aune, & Onni traveled to Canada on in 1913.

Wesa family in White Pine Extension with friends.

Arthur and Olga working hard in Green, Michigan. They stopped by the local weight scale with their harvast.

Arthur and Olga's house being moved to a new location by 4 tractors.

Another picture showing the house being moved.

Aune (Ruth) remained in the USA and raised three daughters; Ruth, Darline, and Dorothy.

Francis Lauri became a Naturalized United States citizen in 1940.

    Arthur and Olga Kytöneva - Wesa family came to Green, Michigan from White Pine Extension Mine and lived across the road from the new Carp Lake School with their children.  White Pine Extension (sometimes called Pinex) was a small copper mine and community created in the wilderness around 1914 when copper prices rose as a result of World War 1.  The mine was an unsuccessful venture (as most of the mines were) and ended operations a few years later somewhere around 1917 or 1918.  It was sometime shortly after this that the Kytöneva - Wesa family moved to Green Michigan.

    Ms. Julia Harris, one of several teachers of Carp Lake School (1923-1953) told a story that one day while she was standing in the entrance of the school, one of Margaret's (another teacher) little girls came running in and shouting, "Mrs. Laine, Mrs. Laine, Onni got pants, Onni got pants." Margaret whispered to me, "I hope he has pants."  Just then Onni came with a bougquet of Dutchman's Britches flowers.

Carp Lake School. It looks like Onni is in the front row sitting down (left side) holding his cane.

Another picture of Carp Lake School.

      Arthur and Olga's children (later when attending school) went by different names.  Aune was called Ruth, Viljo was called Arthur, Paavo was called Walter, and Eero was called Elmer.  After the death of Olga in 1922, the three younger boys Viljo, Paavo, and Eero were raised by the Simon Talikka family.  Onni was crippled and used crutches.  He died in 1924 at the age of 16.  Olga and Onni are buried at the Green Evangelical Lutheran Church, Carp Lake Township, Ontonagon County, Michigan. 

Green Evangelical Lutheran Church

Olga and Onni's Headstone

    In the early 1930s, Stalin's pipe pipers swept the USA country side recruiting Finnish - Americans to work in their Russian labor and war camps in Karelia, Russia.  They were promised housing, good living, and wages in return.  For some, this seemed to be an attractive alternative to the lack of work and/or poor wages during the Great Depression in the United States.  It is said that some went for ideological reasons.

    As the story is told, the Simon Talikka family and the three youngest Kytöneva - Wesa boys; Viljo, Paavo, and Eero, and their father Arthur all migrated to Karelia sometime in the early 1930s.  They were not alone, thousands of Finnish Americans emigrated to the Soviet Union in the 1920's and 1930's.  The move to Karelia resulted in tragedy for many of the Finnish emigrants.  They became victims of Stalin's purges.  Many were convicted as political criminals, contra revolutionaries, spies, or saboteurs.

Karelia Russia

Petroskoi, Karelia 1935-1936. Back row: Walter (Paavo), Waino Pietila, Front Row: unknown, Hugo Metsala, unknown

Sample of Written Execution Orders

Death trenches in Karelia bear witness to Stalin's purges.

Stalin's Secret Police shot a Finnish man holding child in the head.

   The victims were shot between October and November of 1937. Graves at Sandermakh in the Karelian woods were discovered after Memorial members and local authorities found written execution orders in the secret police archives.  The Työmies and Vapaus publications revealed that Arthur and his three sons; Viljo (Arthur Jr.), Paavo (Walter), and Ero (Elmer) were living in Karelia at the time of Stalin's purges.  Also, Mayme Sevander's book titled "Of Soviet Bondage" has a listing of "Vesa, Arthur; from Green, Mich. US 1931." in Appendix 5, titled Wartime Labor Camp Victims.  This suggests that they too became victims of Stalin's purges.

Political Emigrants from Finland and North America to the Soviet Union
Family Name Given Names Other Other Born Birth place Page Publication Text
Family Name Given Name
Wesa  Arthur, Sr.  Kytöneva Frans Artturi 1884 Isojoki,
1931: 256, 267  Työmies Lähtöpaikka: New York NY; Lähtöaika: 29.10.1931; Kotipaikka: Green MI; Huomautus: Lähtijäistilaisuus Greenin "haalilla" 19.10.1931. Kyseessä oli paikkakunnan ensimmäiset Karjalaan lähtijät.
Wesa  Arthur, Jr.   Kytöneva Viljo 1915 Carp Lake, Michigan 1931: 256, 267  Työmies Lähtöpaikka: New York NY; Lähtöaika: 29.10.1931; Kotipaikka: Green MI; Huomautus: Lähtijäistilaisuus Greenin "haalilla" 19.10.1931. Kyseessä oli paikkakunnan ensimmäiset Karjalaan lähtijät.
Wesa  Walter  Kytöneva Paavo 1917 Carp Lake, Michigan 1931: 256, 267  Työmies Lähtöpaikka: New York NY; Lähtöaika: 29.10.1931; Kotipaikka: Green MI; Huomautus: Lähtijäistilaisuus Greenin "haalilla" 19.10.1931. Kyseessä oli paikkakunnan ensimmäiset Karjalaan lähtijät.
Wesa  Elmer  Kytöneva Eero 1918 Carp Lake, Michigan 1931: 256, 267  Työmies Lähtöpaikka: New York NY; Lähtöaika: 29.10.1931; Kotipaikka: Green MI; Huomautus: Lähtijäistilaisuus Greenin "haalilla" 19.10.1931. Kyseessä oli paikkakunnan ensimmäiset Karjalaan lähtijät.

    Stalin's purges were directed at all nationalities, but relative to population the Finns were arrested, exiled and executed in greater numbers than any other ethnic group in Karelia.  At least half and possibly as many as three quarters of the Finns living there were arrested and/or exiled.  Researchers have not yet managed to establish the exact figures, but the best estimates are that about 7,000 of the Finns in Karelia were detained and 4,000 or so executed.  The rumors of genocide was no exaggeration.  Many families lost contact with their relatives who moved to Karelia and they did not know why!  It took two generations later and the breakup of the Soviet Union before they learned the the truth of their family's fate through public disclosure of documents maintained by Stalin's secret police.  The World was stunned! The Finns living in Karelia nicknamed the purges of 1937-38 the "Great Wrath" (after a conflict in 1710-1721 that was one of the bloodiest in Finland's history).

  The last time anyone heard from Arthur and the boys was in a letter written by Simon Talikka in 1936.  Simon writes; "At this time he was no longer living in Karelia, but rather in a different area of Russia working in a gold mine.  Wesa [Arthur] stayed with his boys in Karelia.  They are working there in the woods. Young Paavo [Walter Kytöneva - Wesa] is a teacher in Tunkua.”  [Tunkua is a town in the northern part of Karelia].  This was the last piece of solid evidence that Arthur and the 3 boys were still alive.

    The search for Arthur,
Viljo (Arthur Jr.), Paavo (Walter), and Eero (Elmer) Kytöneva-Wesa continues today.  It is my hope that one day we will find them.  If anyone has any information on my Great Grandfather or my Great Uncles who vanished in Karelia, please leave a message in the Kytöneva–Wesa  Guest Book.

If you are also looking for missing relatives, please check the Laiho List for Finnish-American Emigrants to Soviet Karelia in 1930s.  Please click here: Laiho List

    On May 3, 2004, we received confirmation from Finland that our search for living
Kytöneva family relatives resulted in locating Anja Pihlajaviita.  Anja is the daughter of Saima Sofia and lives in Merikarva.  Saima is one of 13 children of Juho Vihtori Kytöneva and Hilda Maria Augustintytär.  Juho is Arthur's younger brother.  We have also located Anja's sister Salme (Järvenpää) and she lives in Pihlava Finland. They are both very excited that we made contact and sent hundreds of HUGS to all their USA relatives Anja is asking if anyone knows anything about Anshelm Kytöneva, later Neva, who immigrated to Quebec, Canada on 16.06.1906.  If you know anything about Anshelm, please leave a message in the
Kytöneva–Wesa  Guest Book.

Update on Anshelm Kytöneva:  Keith Laughlin, the grand nephew, of his great uncle Anshelm, found the following information in December of 2006:

Anshelm Kytöneva was born December 18, 1887 (18.12.1887),

Emigrated to America in June 16, 1906 (16.6.1906).

 In September 28, 1918, Anshelm registered for potential Military service during World War 1 and went by the name Anshelm Neva.  According to the WW1 draft registration card this is what we learned. 

WW1 Draft Registration Card Information: 

  • Anshelm lived at the 6 Avenue Hotel, in the city of Duluth, which is located in the State of Minnesota, USA.
  • Worked for the White Company, located in Duluth, Minnesota.  His occupation (Job) at that time was listed as a Lumber Jack.
  • Anshelm lists his nearest relative as Arthur Neva (Arthur Kytöneva) who lives in Ontonagon, Michigan.
  • Anshelm was missing two middle fingers on his right hand.

WW1 Draft Registration Card 9-24-1918 side1

WW1 Draft Registration Card 9-24-1918 side2

The State of Minnesota Death Index, indicates that Anshelm Neva died on August 29, 1962, in the city of Duluth, Minnesota, USA.

From information available, it does not appear that Anshelm ever married or became a father. 

Business Section of Duluth, Minnesota and Minnesota Point from Boulevard Drive

Our search for more information about Anshelm Neva (Kytöneva) continues.


    On May 9, 2004, we received late news from Finland that more family relative have been located. 
Please allow me to introduce Juho Vihtori´s youngest son Alvar Kytöneva (70 years) and his sister Meeri.  Alvar and Meeri are Arthur's nephew and niece!  They are the only children of Juho and Hilda Maria still living.  As you recall, Juho is Arthur's younger brother.  Alvar lives in Mänttä, east of Tampere.  Meeri lives in Pori, her surname is Helmejoki.   A son of Alvar, Tapio Kytömäki lives in Isojoki.  Meeri Helmejoki children live near Pori.  Both Alvar and Meeri know that we have been looking and searching for family.  From USA we send Alvar, Meeri, Anja, and Saima 10,000 hugs!  Please see the table below for the relationship between our Finland family and USA family.

 On May 11, 2004, the USA family received a very warm email from Ms. Maj-Lis Krouvi.  Maj-Lis lives near Pori, Finland.  She is the Great Great Niece of Arthur Kytöneva-Wesa, the Granddaughter of Saima Sofia, and the daughter of Salme.  We wish her and her entire family warm greetings and hugs from the USA family.  Maj-Lis was very kind to send us a picture and family tree of her Kytöneva-Vasama family.  The picture below was taken in 1969.


     Starting from left to right:
       Top Row:  Jouko IImari Vasama, Olli-Pekka Vasama, Irja Elisabet lehto, Salme Marita J
ärvenpää, Pauli Johannes Vasama

Bottom Row:  Anja Elise Pihlajaviita, Saima Sofia Vasama, Vilho IImari Vasama, Hilkka Sirkka-Liisa Takala, Senja (Seija) Kyllikki Lahti

Kytöneva-Vasama family tree: (click on the family tree below for a clear image.)

     On May 23, 2004, the USA family received word on another family relative from Finland.  Please welcome Mr. Ilpo (Pietilänaho).  Ilpo is 48 years old and lives near Pori.  Ilpo heard about our search for family relatives from Anja.  He is interested in locating family relatives too.  We send a big warm hello to Ilpo from his USA family!

    Special thanks to Maj-Britt Penttilä (Pori, Finland), Ritva Hopia (Tampere, Finland), Douglas D. Karttunen (Michigan), Cynthia Rupert (Ann Arbor, Michigan), Nancy Ann, (Florida) and Kevin Levonius (Gilroy, California) for all of their love, many hours of research, knowledge, travels, contacts, emails, pictures, documents, stories, phone calls, letters, and patience.  I will always be grateful...